Most of the recipes I looked at used Italian Breadcrumbs. But I really feel these need fresh breadcrumbs, so I’ve included instructions for making your own. I didn’t season mine because I didn’t want them to overpower the delicate flavors of the cheeses. Fresh breadcrumbs absorb flavors and moisture more than packaged ones, so I thought it gave the whole meatball a better, lighter texture. I added a bit of garlic powder (fresh garlic did not work with this, it was overpowering and a touch bitter), basil, oregano and fennel. The fennel really took it up a notch. I think next time I might add a bit of red pepper flake.
Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (instructions below)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese mix
- 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
- 2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- Salt and pepper
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese
- Olive oil
Breadcrumbs: this took a full 1-lb loaf of day-old Italian or French bread. I bought it from the day-old rack for cheap. I tore it into small pieces, spread out on a baking sheet and dried it in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want them toasted or seasoned because I thought it would overpower the delicate flavors of these meatballs. Once they were dried, I ran them through the blender. I reserved 1/4 cup for rolling the balls in before cooking.
Meatballs: Mix together ricotta, grated cheeses, spinach and spices. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup at a time. You want it to come together to form soft balls, but you don’t want it to be dry. Once you can form a soft ball with some structure, you don’t need to add more breadcrumbs.
Scoop up a heaping tablespoon (I used my cookie dough scoop) and roll the mixture into balls.
Mix together 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheeses in a bowl and roll each meatball in the mixture, coating on all sides.
You can bake or pan fry these. I chose to pan fry, it used a bit of oil, but it gave them a nice flavor. Baking them would be my option if I was doubling the recipe.
To fry: heat olive oil in a skillet on medium and add the meatballs, leaving enough space between them to easily turn them. They are soft, so it’s a delicate process. The good news is, if you really want them round (instead of kind of flattened) you can reshape them after they come out of the pan. Turn them until they are golden brown on all sides.
To bake: place them on a well oiled baking sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with a bit of oil if desired. Leave space around each one so they brown evenly and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You can turn them halfway through if desired.
Fire Roasted Tomato and Basil Sauce
- 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes or better yet, click here to make your own.
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh chopped)
Add ingredients in saucepan, bring to a low boil, reduce to low and let simmer while prepping meatballs.
Serve sauce and meatballs over your favorite pasta.
This recipe came from Chef Michael Symon and I don’t think I’ve changed much, except I don’t use as much rosemary and thyme (about half). I’ve been using it for several years and every time it is perfect.
GARLIC & HERB CRUSTED STANDING RIB ROAST
1 standing beef rib roast (7 to 8 pounds, rack of ribs separated from roast)
4 cloves garlic (smashed and made into a paste)
2 sprigs rosemary (leaves removed and finely chopped, plus more)
4 sprigs thyme (leaves removed and finely chopped, plus more)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup beef stock
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Season the roast and rack of ribs with salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Remove the rib roast to room temperature 1 hour prior to roasting. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
In a medium bowl, add garlic, herbs and 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, to form a loose paste. Coat the roast and ribs with the herb oil and season with more cracked black pepper. Using kitchen twine, tie the roast every 2-3 inches to secure shape.
In a roasting pan, place the rack of ribs with the ends pointing up. Place a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme on top of the rack. Place the roast, fat-side-up inside the rack of ribs so they act as a roasting rack. Pour the wine and beef stock in to the bottom of the pan underneath the roast.
Place in the bottom half of the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF and continue to cook for another 1 ½- 2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the roast is 125ºF for medium-rare. During the cooking process, baste the meat with the pan juices every 30 minutes. If the pan starts to get dry, add a little more stock or water.
Remove the roast to a cutting board to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Separate the ribs and thinly slice the roast. Serve with pan juices.
Tip: for ultimate flavor, season the roast and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
If you’d like some personal instruction, click here for video of Michael preparing it.
I’ve been cooking up some great recipes almost daily, but finding the time to put together recipe posts has been difficult. And forget remembering to take photos. Pictured above is Easter dinner, which I did remember to snap. Mostly because as I went to cook the rib roast, I realized I have never transcribed my go-to recipe for this perfect rib roast. I will remedy that in the coming week.
We had snow today, so yesterday before I even sat down to work, I spent time cutting flowers for vases and covering up plants I didn’t want to lose. So there wasn’t a lot of time to think about dinner. Luckily, I had a few items in the frig that needed to be used, so first up for dinner:
Sautéed Sausages and Pasta
- 1 lb sausage links – I used bratwurst this time, Italian sausages work great, too
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1 yellow pepper, sliced
- 1 green pepper, sliced
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 10 oz dried spaghetti (works best with that, but if you have another style on hand, go for it)
skillet and saucepan
Slice sausages into 2 inch pieces.
Prepare pasta according to package directions, but drain when just Al Dente, you want it a bit under cooked, because it will continue to cook and soak up the sauce in the next step. Reserve the pasta water.
While pasta is cooking, heat oil in skillet, reduce to medium-hi heat, add vegetables and saute until softened. Then add sausage pieces and brown. Reduce heat to medium and cover until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Once sausage is cooked through, add a ladle of pasta water to the pan to deglaze and create a sauce – add more as needed – and stir until well mixed and cook on medium high for a minute or two, reduce heat. Add drained pasta. Toss and let it all cook together on low for about 3-5 minutes to let the pasta soak up the sauce. Add a bit more pasta water if needed.
Serve with Parmesan cheese and salad.
Since it was going to be cold today, I decided soup would be a great idea. I made a traditional Potato Soup (recipe here) but since I had leftover carrots and potatoes from a pot roast earlier in the week, I blended those together with the milk, omitted the flour, and made the tastiest creamy soup base. The flavors were amazing and it was perfect for a cold snowy spring day.